Following the end of his lecture during the FEJS Annual Congress 2016, we had the chance to have a quick interview with journalist Alessandro Cappai, during which we asked him some questions not only on the subject he had covered in his lecture but also on journalism itself.
According to you, what are the pros and cons of the instant messaging tools that you talked about during your lecture, especially for journalism?
The most important pro is that you could build a stronger relationship with your audience via these instant messaging tools because I think that mobile phone is a strong way to communicate in this age. It is in your jacket, it’s everywhere, thus it is a strong way to link a newsroom or a single journalist to their target. When it comes to cons, this kind of communication needs less deep analysis than long form journalism or data journalism. Through instant messaging apps or chat apps you could send short messages or a single image or a short video, but really short. Snapchat is the classical example through which you can only send videos up to 10 seconds. It’s your limit.
What do you think about the future usage of these instant messaging channels in journalism?
This new feature of chat apps allows journalists to build some automatism. You could send and distribute a very large quantity of contents to a large audience. If you want to create another kind of link you could choose other ways. But still you could continue to use whatsapp or telegram if you for example have a source that is very sensitive to privacy. In this age we have to change the perspective. We have to consider that these platforms are new channels transmitting information from the newsroom to the audience. And they are also stronger ways to reach information. So I think that for a young journalist, it is important to consider these channels as a way to reach sources, not only as a way to distribute news and reach out to the audience like it used to be.
Can we say that you are someone who believes in technology?
Yes, that is true. If two poles of attitude towards the internet are internet hypocritical and internet enthusiastic, I am truly an internet enthusiast.
You were presented as a ‘glocal’ journalist. What does that mean?
I started my career in a small weekly newspaper that covers a small area of around 100.000 inhabitants. Then, I started to go deeper in the journalism theory concentrating on technological tools. Yes, I do report local stories but the method is not local, it is not strictly limited by geographical area. So I prefer the term ‘glocal’ which is issued of two words coming together: global and local.
Any advices for young journalists?
Try to find a personal way of reporting. Try not to see the past model of reporting, i.e. the golden era of journalism with Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and the Watergate investigation, as the best way of journalism. Try to explore the new method of investigative journalism: multimedia reporting. Put a step further. In our schools of journalism we all study the history of journalism, okay, but it is just a background. My attempt is trying to find actual ways of reporting, actual ways of telling a story, a new way of finding stories. Always try to imagine the method of tomorrow and also the method of one year later. Try to ask yourself ‘How can I find a story?’. Experiment!
Conducted by Mert Ozlutiras and Muge Ozlutiras